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Canadian Government’s Assault on ‘Freedom of Speech’

Canada's House of Commons in Ottawa Credit: Onasill~Bill Badzo/Flickr/Creative Commons

Canada’s House of Commons in Ottawa Credit: Onasill~Bill Badzo/Flickr/Creative Commons

With the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, Canada has taken a hard left turn against free speech.

Last year, the Liberal government announced that it will no longer be handing out grants under its Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program to organizations that do not agree with abortion. Under the program, the government provides funding for about 70,000 students to be hired by religious groups that run day cares, summer camps and drop in centers.

The problem started when an organization called the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada complained that the federal government was funding pro-life groups through such mechanisms as CSJ.

The federal government publicly responded by saying that it will not longer fund anti-abortion groups.

In order to prevent funding, last year the Canadian government chose to only hand out the CSJ grants to ridings that had Liberal MPs who could make sure the money only went to pro-abortion groups.

Apparently, Liberal MPs are not allowed to think abortion is wrong.

However, three pro-life groups who did not receive funding last year took the government to court claiming religious discrimination. The government settled with the groups in November and paid out the funding they would have normally received under the program.

After adding a requirement to the 2018 application form endorsing abortion, the funding was open to all ridings including non-Liberal ones.

On this year’s application, groups are specifically asked their position on abortion, an act that some suggest might be illegal under the constitution.

They are requiring a check mark on a box marked as respecting “reproductive rights” that reads in full:

“Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

But Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom clearly protects freedom of religion and conscience.

Of course, part of the problem is what does the government mean by “core mandate.” The government insists it is simply trying to differentiate between pro-life groups who focus solely on abortion and other religious organizations that do not.

However, many religious groups say though abortion is not part of their core mandate they do not agree with killing babies and cannot check the box because it violates their religious views and freedom of conscience.

But if they refuse to click the box, the online application will not be processed. In other words they have to lie and say pro-abortion views are part of their core mandate to receive the money.

Some describe the tie between pro-abortion views and government funding as little more than ethical extortion. Personally, I don’t think government should be funding work’s program at all, however the larger issue is “Freedom of Speech.”

So far it is not illegal to think differently than the government, so why should agreeing or disagreeing with abortion be a condition to funding? This is a serious issue, because the government is using funding as punishment to control how people think.

Freedom of speech is under attack across North America and if the Canadian government wins on this issue, what will be next?

Because of this several groups are taking government to court over the issue.

Though the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects religious freedom and expression of conscience, does it also protect citizens from an abusive government?


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